Why Buhari is Man of The Decade by Martins Oloja

I want to plead again for understanding about the many inconclusive issues here. The issue of ‘questions to our governors’ and ‘the launch of free and compulsory basic and secondary education in Kano state’ at this moment deserves to be rounded off. But again, there is a more current and weightier matter of governance and leadership we should reflect on before the momentum fizzles out.

It is the credit I think most of us deny President Muhammadu Buhari. I mean that the taciturn, lanky General and President of the most populous black nation on earth at this time deserves some respect even as some of us wailers keep saying he didn’t go to school.

Buhari just like Winston Churchill, who was to be later recognised as an incomparable, world-class orator, didn’t go far in acquiring many higher certificates of knowledge. But I think our leader should be respected as an oracle at this juncture. As I was saying here, orators speak the minds of the people while oracles speak the minds of the gods and when they say to even the orators, ‘do this’, it is done.

At our editorial board meeting consisting of six world-class professors and four other professors in their own callings, among others, we get involved in seminal discussions every week on the difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’. One of them, Professor Wale Omole, former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, set the tone of the distinction between the two – ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ about three years ago and the word comes up every week while discussing the many complex challenges arising from the polity and indeed the business world.

From the download every week, members of the editorial board are familiar with the distinction this way as I have also researched: that Knowledge is something that you accumulate through learning while ‘Understanding’ is something that you know because you have lived through it. So, learning and gaining knowledge can be very useful, but the really important experiences are when you actually understand the experience for yourself by living through it.

So, it can be inferred that some knowledgeable and educated people may not have enough understanding of some subjects because they have not lived through them.

In the same vein, if you ask clerics to speak to this context they will ask: what is the place of ‘Wisdom’ in the same context? This is also the way men of God have consistently explained it in the journals. ‘Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right and lasting, and applicable to your life…In a nutshell, if knowledge is information, wisdom is the understanding and application of that knowledge…’

In this regard, many seminal men of God are likely to quote some scriptures, especially Proverbs 4:7-9, which says, ‘Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honour, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you’.

It seems to me here that most of all educated people, especially in the southern parts of the country assume we are very educated as professors and members of the power elite. We are orators. We are wealthy and loquacious professionals. We are senior advocates, veteran journalists, erudite analysts, world-class scholars and all. But it now seems to me that we actually lack understanding of the times. It appears to me that despite our scholarship, we lack wisdom to frame winning strategy (I didn’t say development strategy). You have to win first to do that.

In our crass ignorance, we went to town and court to proclaim everywhere that ‘Buhari is clueless. Buhari is uneducated. Buhari has fake school certificates. Buhari is braindead. Buhari can’t speak good English clearly….’ But when we began to talk about certificates and elections, did I not ask here if we had read our constitution? Did our law professors and constitutional lawyers tell us that the 1999 constitution does not specify that aspirants to the office of even the president should have been to school? Read my article here titled, ‘Have you read our constitution?’ on this.

As I make progress in my pilgrimage (apology to John Bunyan) to meet with my creator someday, I have been making inquiries too on how to finish well and strong. So, I am beginning to understand that the best (spiritual) gift a man can get from the God of all grace is ‘discernment’. And that is why it has been revealed to mankind that ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’. And this background has shaped my conviction that most of us have perished in our expectations for lack of understanding of the man Buhari who can vaunt today that: ‘I came to Nigeria’s political beat, saw and conquered while most citizens dozed off’. Are we awake yet?

But more important, as the final arbiter on political recruitment and election of leaders in Nigeria, the judiciary, is rounding off election petitions, we need to ask ourselves some rhetorical questions – on consequences of over slumber. We need some introspection too on where the rains began to beat us in the country.

First, where did we go when the ‘clueless Buhari began to prepare election strategy? Where did we hibernate when the ‘uneducated Buhari’ surrounded himself with some of the brightest and the best in the north? Did you know that the people we often dismiss as members of a ‘cabal’ even the wife of the president often describes as bad people around her husband are very, very educated? Don’t ask (me) about their character and consequences of their actions.

We are talking about a leader who has chosen and depended on them to good effect for himself – and we call them uneducated. We will return to some details about them. Where did we go when the presidency began to deal ruthlessly with the leadership of the last (8th) national assembly? When the president appointed the security, intelligence chiefs, service chiefs, the IGP, the national security adviser (NSA), defence and interior ministers, three critical paramilitary chiefs (customs, immigration and prisons), etc from his zone where did we go? As I had asked here before, did we need to ask for the resurrection of Gani Fawehinmi before filing a case against the president in court? Didn’t we think the man was clueless and uneducated when the intelligence chief, (DSS, DG then) went for the jugular of even some Supreme Court justices in a night raid? Was the raid that brought down some strong house doors of the affected justices not hailed as a well co-ordinated strategy to fight corruption in the judiciary? Did you ask questions when suddenly, Justice Walter Onnoghen was appointed Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria? Did even our senior lawyers know that Section 231: Subsection 5 of the 1999 Constitution was curiously inserted there by some ‘uneducated seers’ in 1999 for such a time like this? That section targets any Onnoghens that bold leaders would not want to be confirmed. After three months in an acting capacity, the name (of Acting CJN) can’t be submitted to the Senate. Anyway, where were the educated bureaucrats and law professors from the south when the constitution was being drafted and ‘Interpretation Sections’ (of the constitution) where ‘school leaving certificate’ interpretation the (Court of Appeal) Presidential Election Tribunal relied on last Wednesday, 11 September judgment?

Decent sources from the presidency confirmed to me long ago that while the Justice Niki Tobi’s review committee was working on the draft constitution then, political leaders and ‘monitoring spirits’ we call clueless and uneducated today were vigilant then with the drafters of the constitution. They had looked into the seeds of time then and inserted some not-so-visible but significant wordings in the drafts before General Abdusalami Abubakar transition regime promulgated the draft into the 1999 constitution.

Behold, some of the redrafted sections have today become weapons in the hands of people we say are uneducated but have enough understanding of the power of vigilance during ‘constitution drafting’. This sensitive job (drafting) was going on when the president-elect (1999)(from a very educated region) Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was flying around the world to inform world leaders he would return to power and office on May 29, 1999. Had the letter-writer-general of the federation had some power of discernment, he would have commissioned some experts to scan – to detect some strange landmines in the draft constitution.

Let’s also examine this less travelled road by the widely educated. When the president bluntly refused to sign the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill before the 2019 election, and we in the civil society including the media shrugged our shoulders in complacency, should that masterstroke on the part of president and his men be classified as cluelessness? So, did we expect the Tribunal to blast the APC presidential candidate for that last Wednesday? Has that refusal to sign the bill into law not been a masterstroke?

Lest we forget, the Buhari’s ‘clueless presidency’ met the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal as Alhaji Danladi Umar, from Bauchi State. They got in Professor Isa Mohammed from Jigawa state as Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau. They were aware the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami hails from Kebbi State. They were aware that the Head of the Executive Arm of Government, the President hails from Katsina State (North West). They were aware that the Head of the Legislature then, Senator Bukola Saraki hails from Kwara State (North Central) and the Head of the Judiciary then hails from Cross River State (South South). The powers in Abuja could have thought that removing the only southerner and Christian heading an arm of government, Justice Walter Onnoghen could trigger trouble for the federation. But they were ‘courageously clueless’ enough to go for him (Onnoghen) to teach us some lessons on the difference between ‘knowledge of power and resource sharing’ and ‘understanding’

Martin is a Columnist with the Guardian

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